Are Tears a Sin? Clara Wetherald’s Views on Emotion and Preaching

This article was published while B.T. Roberts was editor of The Free Methodist. It shows the emotional/embodied nature Clara most likely also practiced as she addressed a congregation. As I’ve blogged about her for several years, her passion cannot be doubted but how she physically and emotionally expressed that passion was something I was unsure of until I found this article. My favorite quote from Clara in this article is: “Tears often speak louder than words. “

Clara Wetherald

By Clara Wetherald

The Free Methodist November 23, 1887

A meeting was held in a certain place to labor with a sister, and tell her how they disliked her crying when she preached, and the case has so affected my mind I felt I must write a few thoughts on the subject. If it is improper to be moved to tears while preaching, the Apostle Paul must have been out of place when he for “three years ceased to warn the people night and day, with tears.”

Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet, and he exclaimed, “Oh! That my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night over the slain of the daughters of my people!” (O, don’t weep, Jeremiah, they don’t like to see it); but he even craves the privilege, as he see the necessity in the case. (Jer. Ix., 1) and in verse twenty, he tells the women to teach their daughters wailing, and every one his neighbor lamentations. I remember of reading that “Jesus wept,” and there is a promise that “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Tears often speak louder than words.

Oh, I would to God that more of the ministers felt so intensely for the lost ones they address, and the importance of the message to be delivered, that even the tears would course their way down their cheeks!  It would no doubt accomplish full as much good as to talk in a harsh, unfeeling manner.

Tears indicate deep emotion, and I have heard sinners say, in speaking of certain ministers and their labor, “It was their tears that haunted me, and I could not get their eyes off from me, and their wailing for my sins so melted my hard heart that I yielded to God.” O brothers and sisters in Christ, rebuke for sin if you please, but for the sake of the lost humanity, if there is a person on earth who weeps over the lost ones they preach to, while there is a lost one to save, while there is a Magdalene to be forgiven, while a world lies in wickedness, let them weep; yes, let the daughters of Zion weep and howl for the sins of the people, and warn them with tears of “flee the wrath to come.” The angel of God, while crying and warning Lot and his friends to his intensity of desire to save them from the fire and brimstone which would soon be poured upon them, laid hold of him and his family; but oh! how indifferent are the ministers of God to-day; and yet “suddenly destruction is at hand.” Why are not meetings appointed to labor with those who are at ease in Zion and who do bring three souls to God in a whole year’s labor? But instead, to some places, efforts are made to crush out what little life there is, and to quench the little zeal that is manifest. Sister, mourn and weep and plead till the great Judge arise and answer and say, “I will avenge you of your adversaries.”

Go, then, ever weeping, sowing for the Master,

Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;

When our weeping’s over, he will bid us welcome;

We shall come rejoicing, brining in the sheaves.

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